Two seismic safety proposals have been pending at the Capitol this year.  AB 1857 (Nazarian) sought to increase the stringency of the “strength and stiffness” requirements for “engineered buildings” by 50% until such time the Building Standards Commission adopts similar requirements in the code.  Industry had several serious concerns with this proposal as it would place an arbitrary and very costly building code requirement in statute.  Also, it was unclear where the 50% increase value came from and what technical documentation was used to arrive at that specific figure.  Lastly, this proposal provides only a vague definition of what is meant by “engineered building” which makes it very difficult to gauge the scope of application.

 At the request of industry, the bill was completely rewritten to direct the BSC to establish a working group to determine if the concept of “functional recovery” should replace the long-standing national and state goal of having buildings provide “emergency egress” during a serious seismic event.  If (emphasis) the group of industry experts comes to this conclusion, they would then determine what the new building standards should be, if they are cost-effective and to what extent, if any, these new standards should apply to the worst seismic regions in the state.  However, citing that this process would duplicate the more thorough and comprehensive process at the national level, Governor Brown vetoed this legislation.

 AB 2681 (Nazarian) was referred to as the Seismic Resilience Initiative (SRI) and would have required building owners to work with local building departments to identify “vulnerable buildings”.  While well-intended, the initial bill did not identify a funding source that could be accessed by local governments, creating the potential for an unfunded state mandate costing over $100 million dollars.  The initial proposal also called for statewide application which would involve a local review of over ten million structures in a short period of time.  Even though the author had amended the bill to drastically cut the area of application and require the Office of Emergency Services (OES) to identify sources of funding to cover the local jurisdiction costs, cost concerns prompted Governor Brown to veto this legislation.

© 2007-2012 Building Owners and Managers Association of California (BOMA Cal)